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Willard Wesley Millikan


Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) fighter sweep to Stendall, Germany. Post combat, climbing out, section flew through intense and accurate flak, one aircaft suffered direct hit and in the ensuing avoidance of debris, suffered mid air collision with P-51B 43-24787 [Lt Sam Young] 30-May-44. A/C abandoned. Pilot Capt Willard Millikan POW. MACR 5488.

Born 4 October 1918 in Hamburg, Iowa, Willard grew attended Peru State College. He wanted to join the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. In order to be accepted into the programme he needed extensive dental work, which was very expensive. Finally accepted into the programme, his worry over his debt distracted his attention to the point that his flying was unsatisfactory and he was washed out.
He went to Canada and joined the RCAF, completing his training as a fighter pilot, and was sent to England. Upon the U.S. entry into the war and the inception of the 4th fighter Group, he transferred into the U.S. Army Air Corps and was assigned to the 4th Fighter Group, 336th Squadron.
During his time in England he married an English girl and they eventually had a baby daughter.
Millikan scored his first victory, an Fw-190 in September 1943, and followed with three singles in the next six months. On 8 April 1944, during a battle with a group of Me-109s near Ulzen, he shot down three to become an "Ace". He later got another single, and then on 22 April he got four more '109s near Kassel.
On a mission on 30 May "Millie", as he was known, took his squadron on a climb to rescue "Deacon " Hively, who was being chased by 30-plus enemy fighters. They dove for the deck closely followed by Millikan's squadron. Down low, the flak gunners opened up and Millie's wingman, Sam Young, was hit. His plane reacted violently and its nose rammed Millie's plane, cutting it in half behind the pilot. With complete loss of control, the plane went into a spin, and as Millie released his seat belt he was violently thrown from the plane. As he plummeted downward he was unable to deploy his parachute as the nose of the plane followed him. The plane finally passed him and in his descent and he belatedly opened his 'chute, landed, and was immediately captured by German soldiers. He spent the rest of the war as a POW.
Willard stayed in the Air Force until 1946, when he was discharged as a Major. He then served in the District of Columbia Air National Guard. As an employee of Goodyear, he set a West-East speed record in an F-86 flying from Los Angeles to New York in slightly over four hours. Eventually he retired from the ANG as a Brigadier General. He suffered a fatal heart attack in October 1978.
"Millie" had 13 confirmed victories and had earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Air Medal with three oak Leaf Clusters.

Awards: DSC, DFC (5 OLC), AM (3 OLC), PH, POW, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, WWII Victory.

Post war: Retires USAF as Major General in 1969.


Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 336th Fighter Squadron

    336th Fighter Squadron

    The 336th Fighter Squadron was constituted by the War Department on 22 august 1942, and was activated at Bushey Hall, England, on 12 September. It had been designated as No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, and was made up of American volunteers to the Royal Air...


  • 43-24769 'Missouri Mauler'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) fighter sweep to Stendall, Germany. Post combat, climbing out, section flew through intense and accurate flak, one aircaft suffered direct hit and in the ensuing avoidance of debris, suffered...

  • 41-6180 "Missouri Mauler"

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. One-time personal aircraft of Lt Willard W Millikan.

  • 43-6997

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.

Associated Place

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...


Event Location Date
Born Hamburg, IA 51640, USA 4 December 1918
Lived in Rockport, Missouri, USA 1940
Enlisted Leavenworth, KS, USA 16 August 1941

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.

Assigned Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK February 1943 – 30 May 1944

Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.

Promotion Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK April 1943

Promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

Promotion Debden, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11, UK 2 April 1944

Promoted to Captain.

Mid air collision 19243 Wittenburg, Germany 30 May 1944

Mid air collision, abandoned A/C. POW. MACR 5488.

Prisoner of War (POW) Zagan, Poland 30 May 1944 – 1945

Prisoner of War (POW).

Died Alexandria, VA, USA 28 October 1978
Buried England, UK November 1978

Cremated, Ashes scattered over England.


Date Contributor Update
08 March 2019 14:25:56 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography and media associations

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia ;
- Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force;
- Who's Who in the Eighth Air Force and/or Biographical Directory Command & Staff Officers Eighth Air Force 1942-45 ;
- MACR 5488;
- 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
21 May 2016 12:53:46 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, nickname, highest rank, biography, awards, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:27:28 AAM AAM ingest

MACR 5488 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list